Observe the World, Improve Your Writing

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Yesterday I was walking through a store behind a man with a squeaky shoe.

Step. Creeeeeek. Step. Creeeeeek. Step. Creeeeeek.

I was so taken by the sound and the visual of this shoe — how it slipped from the man’s heel — that I forgot what I was looking for. I forgot the store entirely. My brain went into recording mode. Remember the sound. Remember the image. Tuck it away. It’s too good not to use.

Last night (this morning, really), I woke up and couldn’t get back to sleep. The windows were open and I lay there in the dark, listening to the night’s noises. A cricket’s staccato chirps. The high-pitched buzz of far-away bug. The rustling of leaves beneath the window. Instead of counting sheep, I thought of a night scene in my WiP and how to write these sounds in words.

Is it like this for you, too? Always watching, cataloging details?

I used to think I was an odd duck, the way I studied details and people and situations. But then I started writing, and the way I observe the world made sense. Here’s why.

Writing a story isn’t just conveying information or events: this happened, this happened, this happened and then this happened. Writing a story is about recreating an experience such that the reader forgets the world around them, they are so fully immersed in the world you’ve created on the page. One way you achieve this is through the use of detail and texture. Details and textures you’ve picked up while observing your world.

A rustling of leaves at night.

The creaking of an old man’s shoe.


2 thoughts on “Observe the World, Improve Your Writing

    elenasc said:
    October 4, 2010 at 8:16 am

    I really enjoy reading post like this! And yes, It’s like that for me as well!
    I just started my blog and I posted “The power of blogging” to talk about this new experience. Drop by if you can, I’d like to have you comment! Thanks again!

      Amy K. Nichols said:
      October 4, 2010 at 8:24 am

      Hi Elana. Thanks for commenting and letting me know about your blog. šŸ™‚ I’ll check it out!

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